Gender Equality Week in 2022; Where Are We Really?

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Article2022 | 09 | 22

Gender Equality Week in 2022; Where Are We Really?

Gender Equality Week is the result of the passing of Bill C-309, the Gender Equality Week Act, which received Royal Assent on June 21, 2018, and designates the fourth week in September as Gender Equality Week.

The Act encourages everyone to recognize and try to address the challenges Canadian women unfairly continue to face. 

Women everywhere still suffer a variety of wrongs, including under-representation in better-paying and more powerful occupations and less pay. 

These challenges are real, unfair, and based on gender. The numbers confirm it.

Women in the Workforce

Catalyst reported that as of July 1, 2019, women amounted to just over half (50.3%) of Canada’s total population. In 2019, women were overrepresented (63.3%) in the public sector and underrepresented (45.1%) in the private sector. Women disproportionately managed caregiving responsibilities as they spent, on average, 3 hours and 44 minutes per day on unpaid work, compared with an average of 2 hours and 28 minutes for men. In 2017 women were twice as likely (26%) to work part-time as men (13%). Among women, 27% listed childcare as a reason for working part-time.

Women as Leaders

The Canadian Women’s Foundation acknowledges some progress has been made toward gender diversity and inclusion in leadership roles but says there still is a long way to go;

Women in Politics

According to HillNotes from the Library of Parliament, on December 6, 1921, Agnes Campbell Macphail became the first woman elected to the House of Commons. Since 1921, women’s representation in the Parliament of Canada has gradually increased to a record proportion in 2021 (but still with a significant underrepresentation of women).

As of November 22, 2021, women amounted to 30.5% of all members of the House of Commons. In the Senate, it was 49% (13 seats were vacant). It is believed this is because Senators are appointed, and current considerations for the appointment process include achieving gender balance. 

Statistics Canada has provided the following breakdown of Parliament and Cabinet:

Statistics

Number

Proportion

Gender

Total

Male

Female Total Male Female
National elected officials
Members of Parliament on July 1, 2018

337

246

91

100.0

73.0

27.0

Members of Parliament on July 1, 2019

335

244 91 100.0 72.8

27.2

Members of Parliament on July 1, 2020

338

240 98 100.0 71.0

29.0

Members of Parliament on July 1, 2021

337

238 99 100.0 70.6

29.4

Members of Cabinet on July 1, 2018

30

15 15 100.0 50.0

50.0

Members of Cabinet on July 1, 2019

35

18 17 100.0 51.4

48.6

Members of Cabinet on July 1, 2020

37 19 18 100.0 51.4

48.6

Members of Cabinet on July 1, 2021

37

19 18 100.0 51.4

48.6

This shows underrepresentation of women as elected officials and relative parity as appointed members of the Cabinet (likely for the same reason there is relative parity in the Senate).

According to the CBC the first female member of the Legislative Assembly in Manitoba was Edith Rogers, who was elected in the 1920 general election. This was at a time when the ballot would often indicate whether or not a female candidate was married.

Up until the early 1980s, it was rare for a woman to win a riding. The highest proportion of female MLAs was reached in 2007 when 18 women were elected, representing 32 per cent of the Legislature. At the time of our last election in 2019, 15 of 57 ridings were won by women (just under 32%).

The Gender Pay Gap 

The gender pay gap is the difference in the average earnings of people based on gender. The Canadian Women’s Foundation has reported that Canadian women make 89 cents for every dollar Canadian men make. Stunningly, it will take 267.6 years to close the gender pay gap worldwide if the present trends continue. 

Women in Sports

Sportico has reported the top 100 highest-paid athletes in the world, and Forbes has reported the top 50. Tennis stars Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams are the only two women in the top 100.

Adelphi University has reported that while the level of pay varies from sport to sport, a look at five popular American sports confirms the reality that female athletes consistently make less than their male counterparts.

Average Player Compensation per Sport, 2019
Sport

Men

Women

Basketball (NBA & WNBA)

$8,321,937

$75,181

Golf (PGA & LPGA)

$1,235,495

$48,993

Soccer (MLS & NWSL)

$410,730

$35,000

Softball/Baseball (MLB & NPF)

$4,031,549

$6,000

Tennis (ATP & WTA)

$335,946

$283,635

Some specific details are illustrative.

  • Every year since the Women’s National Basketball Association’s inaugural season in 1997, the highest-paid women’s basketball player has earned less than the lowest-paid men’s National Basketball Association player. 
  • In 2019, all 24 teams in the FIFA Women’s World Cup shared a $30 million prize pool. That was the same amount of prize money awarded to the winning men’s team a decade earlier.

Givemesport.com and NBC Sports have published similar, detailed reports that make fascinating reading for those interested in more of these types of comparisons.

To be clear, the top professional athletes (male or female) are very well paid indeed, but it is consistently the case men make substantially more than women. 

Women in Movies and the Media

The Showbiz CheatSheet has reported a nearly $200 million pay gap between Hollywood’s highest-paid male and female movie stars. In 2018, Scarlett Johansson came in at the top for women, earning some $40 million. George Clooney came in at the top of the men’s list, with $239 million. Apparently, the top 10 earning women for 2018 pulled in a combined $186 million while the top 10 earning men earned a combined $748.5 million. 

The top movie stars clearly are all paid staggeringly well, but particularly so the men.

Lloyd Robertson retired after 35 years of service with the CTV at the age of 77. Peter Mansbridge retired after 30 years of service with the CBC at the age of 69. I haven’t had the pleasure of speaking with either one but have seen nothing to suggest either left their news desks before they wanted to do so.

Lisa LaFlamme stated she was “blindsided” by her employer’s “business decision” to end her contract at the age of 58 after 35 years of service, despite having thought she had a lot more time to deliver the news. She said it was “crushing to leave in a manner that was not [her] choice”.

Conclusion

The data provided here has been gathered from a variety of sources on the Internet. I can’t say with certainty all the numbers are absolutely correct, and I have provided the links so readers can check the sources themselves and follow up with whatever due diligence or fact-checking they feel appropriate.

Regardless though, even if some of the numbers are off a bit, unless they are remarkably incorrect, it appears very clear that even today, in these supposedly more enlightened times, women are underrepresented in positions of influence, power and pay and earn substantially less than men. We have admittedly made some progress over the years but can and need to do much better. Recognizing and supporting Gender Equality Week is an important start for all of us, but by no means is it a complete answer.


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Jeff Palamar
Jeff Palamar
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